Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card at Saturday’s Newcastle meeting with four to follow. View selections below
Newcastle stages its flagship flat race meeting of the year this weekend with the Northumberland Plate or “Pitmen’s Derby” the highlight on a terrific card. The Plate has been run at Gosforth Park since the course opened in 1882 and I have been very sweet on the chances of last season’s beaten favourite Deauville Flyer (3.05) since his unlucky-in-running effort at Haydock Park behind current favourite Activate last time.
The selection is due to meet the Michael Bell trained jolly on 7lb better terms on Saturday and the recent rain is a massive help although the draw a negative. He has been handed stall 16 and a low draw, historically, is a big plus despite the fact that today’s top-weight Overturn bucked the trend when grabbing the rail from stall 21 under an inspired Eddie Ahern ride last year.
Prior to Overturn’s success in 2010 only Archduke Ferdinand (17) and Juniper Girl (11) had won from double-figure draws since 1998 and it is also worth pointing out that only Bangalore (2002) has carried more than 8st 11lb to victory in the same period.
Deauville Flyer carries exactly 8st 11lbs and his regular jockey Robert Winston is replaced by Tom Eaves who will ride the five-year-old for the first time. Luck will always play its part in this most competitive of handicaps but 14/1 was a decent price earlier in the week and the 12/1 on offer at the time of writing is still fair but oh that draw! Make no mistake had Deauville Flyer been given a single figure draw this was one to get the betting boots on….but stall 16?
Earlier on in the card Regal Parade (2.00) can land the opener for “sprint-king” Dandy Nicholls although I wasn’t convinced by his finishing effort at Haydock last time. The return to an easier surface will suit, however, and this former Group 1 winner can show he is no back number. Deacon Blues did this column a big favour when landing the Wokingham at Ascot last week, but Waffle made the selection pull out all the stops and the runner up is turned out again on Saturday. It would be no surprise if he gave Regal Parade most to think about.
The lightly-raced Xilerator (3.40) was raised 7lbs for a facile 5l win over course & distance last time, but he remains open to further improvement given he has only raced half a dozen times. Some would suggest he was flattered by the margin of victory here given the field split in two, but it is also possible that he is a group horse in a handicap and I favour the latter opinion.
Hakuna Matata (4.45) has a desperate draw to overcome but ran well on fibresand earlier in the month and ought to find the ground to his liking. Trainer Brian Ellison has equipped the horse with first time blinkers and excellent apprentice Dale Swift takes a valuable 5lbs off his back; if he gets beat….no worries!
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